· By Emily Cunningham
Made in Ghana: Behind the Scenes with Global Mamas
We're thrilled to partner with Global Mamas this fall for our Autumn Beauty Box - and perhaps even more thrilled that each product in the box this month was made in Ghana and powered by True Moringa oil! We sat down with Renae Adam, co-founder of Global Mamas, to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of their Global Beauty Butter production, and to hear how they use True Moringa oil and other unique natural ingredients to create true social change and blissfully delicious skincare treats
What first motivated Global Mamas to get involved in the shea butter business?
Global Mamas had a close-up introduction to shea butter many years ago by “Mother Shea” Eugenia Akuete. We were astounded by the laborious process of shea butter production and shocked by how little the skilled craftswomen were earning. Similar to the struggles of smallholder farmers, the larger-scale processing of bulk shea butter is hurting small-scale producers in the rural areas. Small-scale producers are forced to accept the going market rates for shea butter, which might cover the cost of production but then little is left to share for the women doing the nut harvesting and processing. Global Mamas felt compelled to find markets for these hard-working women to provide more consistency of orders and generate fair and living wages.
My hope is that initiatives like Global Beauty Butter and ViCE/Live Nation TV’s documentary “Exploring Ghana’s Sustainable Beauty Industry with Alexis Krauss and Bethany Cosentino” will bring more exposure to the incredible work going into the handcrafting of shea butter. These skilled craftswomen deserve to earn living wages and realize their dreams to provide the best opportunities for their children, have a happy life, and make the world a better place for generations to come.
How did Global Mamas link up with Alexis Krauss from the band Sleigh Bells?
As part of her quest to change the face of the beauty industry through Beauty Lies Truth, Alexis was always fascinated by shea butter and desired to find the source of this all-natural “liquid gold” in Africa. Alexis teamed with her good friend and advocate Bethany Cosentino from the band Best Coast, and Vice Magazine/Live Nation TV, to explore women’s empowerment through the production of fair trade shea butter in Ghana. Since Global Mamas had been empowering women for years in finding markets for all-natural skin care products made in Ghana, Alexis and Bethany quickly hooked up with Global Mamas as part of their Ghana tour.
Alexis and Bethany were really moved by the women handcrafting the shea butter in northern Ghana and learned of their desire for steady orders and an improved working environment. This inspired them to dream up Global Beauty Butter to increase orders and income for the craftswomen, as well as fund workplace improvement projects for the CMA Shea Cooperative through the Shea Helps Empower (SHE) Fund. I’ve worked closely with Alexis at every stage from the fair trade audit of the Cooperative to designing the packaging for Global Beauty Butter (with the added touch of her dad drawing the stunning logo with a woman’s hands holding shea nuts.)
What was most memorable about Alexis’ and Bethany’s visit to Ghana?
Both Alexis and Bethany really connected with each person they met in Ghana and were eager to hear everyone’s personal story. The shea butter craftswomen also loved seeing Alexis and Bethany roll up their sleeves and try all the steps of shea butter processing. Aside from Alexis being one of my all-time favorite musicians, I am continually inspired by her passion to change the face of the beauty industry through Beauty Lies Truth. She has a relentless drive to promote all-natural beauty products, like Global Beauty Butter, and create sustainable livelihoods for the hard-working shea butter craftswomen in Ghana.
What’s been accomplished so far?
Just before we launched Global Beauty Butter, Global Mamas was granted “Guaranteed” Fair Trade status with the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). This was a huge accomplishment for Global Mamas and put us in a position to undertake a fair trade audit of our new partner producer of Global Beauty Butter, the CMA Shea Butter Cooperative. The results of the extensive audit were favorable and Global Beauty Butter reveals the “Guaranteed Fair Trade” label. The Shea Helps Empower Fund (SHE Fund) was also launched to honor our commitment to the craftswomen who create Global Beauty Butter. Through the profits of Global Beauty Butter thus far, we have nearly 20% of the funds needed to repair the structure and roof of the shea processing center – the highest priority project identified by the CMA Shea Butter Cooperative. We hope that sales of the True Moringa Gift Box will help us accumulate the needed funds to complete this project.
What is next for Global Mamas skin care products?
Global Mamas is determined to produce our skin care products end-to-end in Ghana to create needed jobs and ensure fair wages for all skilled craftswomen along our entire skin care supply chain, from [shea] nut to packaging. Next year we will give a facelift to our skin care products by using unique, eco-friendly packaging made in Ghana, whenever possible. We also plan to expand our product range to include other bath and body products and formulate using Ghana-sourced, all-natural ingredients such as True Moringa Oil, neem, eucalyptus, lemongrass, noni, and baobab.
Any funny stories to share from your early startup days?
It seems rather funny looking back now that I came to Ghana in early 2003 to start Global Mamas (then called Women in Progress) with one suitcase of personal belongings, a desktop computer and monitor, and my office chair, which I still use today after 13 years. With a slim budget of personal funds, I rented a small one-room office for the equivalent of about $20/month and got started.
Even with a relentless dream, it is tough starting any new venture and it seems even more challenging in a lesser developed country. The other Global Mamas co-founder, Kristin Johnson, and I both volunteered for years before Global Mamas broke even financially and could start paying us something for our time. Many times it seems we are taking three steps forward and two steps back. In Ghana we would say, “kakrakakra” meaning “small small”. But the Mamas march forward together embracing this African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” With teamwork, we can go far in achieving prosperity for women in Ghana.